Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Seeding Prep

We're in the lead up to seeding now, and now the serious vehicle maintenance happens. Yeah it coulda happened in the last coupla months but... well we haven't got that much maintenance to do. Basically just make sure everything works.

Problem is 1 thing didn't work. Our spray tractor - the tractor that pulls the boom spray. It's a Ford 8401. Just wouldn't start. It does get a bit like it at times, but this morning all it could do was "click" "click" "click" with every turn of the key. The battery seemed the obvious problem, so we put in a brand new one, instead of recycling the old ones that we just charge up.

We even went and found the old battery hold down clamp on put it on.
Well that made no difference. So off came the starter motor and in it went to town to get it checked out. Turns out there was nothing wrong with it. But still it was click click click every time, with the odd time it would turn the engine over. The mechanic in town suggested it could be a faulty ignition switch, so we tested it by bypassing it and energizing the starter motor straight off the battery. It worked! Every time. So the problem is the ignition switch, or safety switch on the clutch (the switch that makes sure the clutch pedal is depressed before the starter can work). I thought that the easiest solution to the problem would be to put a relay in at the starter motor. I knew that if I got a click with every key turn that would be enough to open a relay. So I wired the ignition wire as the trigger that would open a direct connection to the battery to operation the starter. It worked a treat. Every time!

And there she is, the 8401 all ready to rock and roll. This is the tractor that pulls the boom spray so the next job was to go hook onto the boom spray, which is exactly what I did. So That part of the seeding equipment is almost ready to go.

I also tidied up a few jobs on the air seeder. I finished off the wiring at the back of the box where the clutch sensor switches are for my new switch box. That's all done now, and working (still waiting on a triple 5 timer from the electrician - cause my attempts to make 1 were, well, disastrous - but that's not essential for operation. It just means the audible alarm will be constant rather than beeping). I also swapped a drive sprocket on the air seeder gear box to give me more capacity. By putting a smaller sprocket (or cog if you like - the bit the drive chain goes around) on the gear box drive will make it turn faster. Hence I can use lower gears to turn the shafts at the same speed. Hence I can turn the shafts faster than I could before in the higher gears. Hence I can run higher seeding and fertilizer rates than I could before, if I needed to. The chain lengths needed altering slightly too. They just need tensioning up now, and oiling, the guard put back on, and that part of the machine will also be ready to go. Tomorrows job.

I never let you know what I did yesterday (I know, slack aren't I). Well I did do something, but it's funny how, after just 1 day, I struggle to remember what. I know that I did my usual sheep feeding rounds, but after that... Oh yeah, I remember now. I went down to a mates place to help him spread his snail bait. He helped me when I did mine. It's much easier to have 2 people ya see. 1 to drive, the other to keep topping up the spreader. So he helped me so I took the supalux and spreader down and helped him. No problem. That took up most of the day.

Somewhere in there we had 2mm of rain too. A couple of warmer days has really kicked off a good germination and a lot of green shoots are just poking up now. It looks lovely, it's great to see green grass growing again.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Nice Day for a Drive

Yes it was lovely driving out in the paddocks today after so much rain. Don't know if I mentioned or not the other day that we had 18.5mm of rain, well this morning I emptied the rain gauge for another 20mm (and we've had a few more showers since then through the day too). So out in the paddocks it was nice and muddy and definitely a good time to engage the 4wd in the ute.

First chance I got to venture out into the fields was early this morning (which is 8am on a Sunday) and the reason was to move the cows back into the paddock they are supposed to be in. The cows are very annoying in this way. They tend to like to "escape" just for the fun of it. Although I must admit that this time they probably did have just cause. I put them onto the wheat stubble in front of the house probably 6 weeks ago now, and they have eaten it out pretty well. So the fresh barley stubble next door would have been quite a tempting option for them. I put them back this morning but unfortunately one of the cows had a calf out there in the night and that calf was either still born, or had died since. Either way that cow was not moving anywhere. So I left her there. I knew that in doing such a thing, even with a comprehensive repair to the electric fence that was supposedly keeping the cows in, that they would be out again by the time we got home from Church.

I was right. So then I had another opportunity to venture out onto the dampened pastures. This time I discovered another cow had calved while I was out there. I tried to get a picture, but it's not really clear.

But anyway there she is with a lovely new calf only minutes old. I didn't see the birth, but I didn't miss it by much. So having 1 cow still standing over her dead calf, another in there with her brand new calf, more cows in the wrong paddock than the right 1 and that being the paddock they were going to end up on anyway, I decided to leave them there. It required a quick fence repair to another part of the paddock, but that's ok. They're all happy now (and definitely not hungry).

Sheep feeding followed that and I fed all 4 ewe mobs today. The mob over on Bob's (back on paddock 4) had managed to escape to a neighbouring paddock, well actually 2 neighbouring paddocks - but that was always going to be a possibility as the fence there in 1 spot isn't real flash. So the few that did the right thing and stayed in the right paddock were rewarded with a bit of grain feed.

The other mobs were all ok, looking good.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Opening Rains

Sorry, no pictures of puddles today either... but that doesn't mean there isn't any. Yes we've had good opening rains here, as has most of the state of South Australia. When I checked the rain gauge this morning we'd had 18.5mm and there has been a few showers throughout the day today since then too. It's a very good feeling. So farm jobs today included.. yes you guessed it.. feeding the sheep. A particularly important job over the next few days as there is more cold, wet and windy weather forecast. They'll need as much energy, and feel as full as they can, to look after their lambs in the cold. 2 of the mobs are in paddocks with good shelter, ie. plenty of trees (native timber). The other 2 mobs wont have the same protection though.
Sheepfeeding today started with taking the truck over to Bob's to get another load of feed from there. Then a couple of good loads out of the feeder on the back of the ute for the 3 main mobs. I think next time (in 2 days time) I'll also start feeding the 4th mob again. They have been on fresh barley stubble for a while now, so haven't been hand fed, but now that fresh stubble wouldn't be so fresh. On the farm paperwork front, still working out registration for the Kenworth. Other that that, still enjoying the rain.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

An Inside Day Today

That's right, far to cold and wet to be working outside. The reason for that is that a rain band came through this morning, and it's been raining fairly steady for most of the day. It's absolute perfect timing for farmers in this area, and most of the state, as the seeding season is only a few weeks away and this rain will germinate unwanted weeds in the paddocks. Hence the knockdown herbicides will be more effective in controlling in crop weeds. It's also good news for the livestock as the rain has come at the right time to germinate good pastures for feed. Good news is there is even more rain forecast for the next few days.
So today's jobs were mainly inside. I just had to do a quick downpipe repair on the house. (Downpipes are used to take the rainwater collected on the house roof to the rainwater tank). So yes, a very last minute repair. After that it was all inside doing farm paperwork, including filling out plant breeders rights forms and organising registration for the Kenworth ready for seeding. We'll need to use the truck to collect our fertilizer.
The only other job was to sit back and relax and enjoy the sound of rain on the roof.
Sorry.. I've got no pictures of puddles for you. Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I've Been a Bit Crook

For anyone not Australian that means I've been sick. So I haven't been keeping up with my daily blog, but I have been doing the odd thing on the farm in the last few days.
I've still been keeping up the sheepfeeding every second day (today was sheepfeeding day) and haven't had any real problems to mention. Well I did have 1 problem I should mention. I lost the drive belt off the side of the sheep feeder somewhere, rendering it useless unless I could either find the lost belt out in the paddock somewhere where it fell off, or find a belt to replace it... I found a belt to replace it, but it did delay feeding the one of the mobs, the mob at 5 roads, for a day. Hope they didn't mind. I did open up a couple of extra paddocks for them as well. Maybe that would make up for the delay. The 2 paddocks are the middle paddocks here on the home block, and they have been eaten down pretty well earlier on, but since then a few summer weeds have emerged and the ewes will clean them up no worries.
Monday I spent most of the day shearing for one of the neighbours. That is the day that I was just starting to feel a cold coming on, and let me just say grabbing a handpiece and going shearing didn't help it at all.
Ok quick weather report - the last few days have been the usual beautiful autumn days. Lovely and sunny with very little wind. This time of year we struggle to keep the windmill over on Bob's going and keeping up the water to the sheep over there, simply because there isn't enough wind. Usually this area is renowned for how windy it gets, but March and April are the non-windy months. There is an aire of excitement in the air (does that make sense? - I must still be crook, not thinking straight) anyway, yes the excitement is the prospect that the season break (which is the first significant rain event for the season) is forecast for the next few days. Looks as if it will be a real change of season with good rains of anywhere from 20 to 50mm, cooler temperatures in the high teens (degrees Celsius)(at the moment temps are in the mid 20's) and a South Westerly wind pattern for a while. This is a very exciting prospect for anyone on the land, and especially in this area as we have experienced 3 drought years in a row and are looking forward to the new season.
So a few of the odd jobs that have been going on are repairing gutters, and downpipes. Bob's shed had a few leaks in the gutter right above the super (fertilizer) shed door. Not a very good spot for a water leak as water and fertilizer do not mix. So Bob and myself patched that one up today. And I've been working on downpipes on the house.
Yesterday afternoon there were alot of flying ants swarming above the trees in the area. We have always said that flying ants meant that rain is on the way. Lets hope so.
Here are a couple of pictures of what I've been up to.
This old girl was down after lambing and just needed a little help to stand up. After about 10 minutes the feeling returns to her legs and slowly I can get her walking again. After stumbling and falling a few times, eventually she walked away and went over to the other feeding sheep. I did see her fall over 1 more time, but this time she was able to get up by herself. Finally a success story! I'm pretty sure I managed to save this one.
This is a group of lambs just playing around as I roll up with the sheep feed. As you can see each day there is more and more lambs.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Another Day with the Sheep

Well run of the mill sheep feeding again today, and again today no problems. I did break the monotony a little though and for some added excitement fed the mobs in a different order than I usually do. Just did the basic 3 mob run with the added windmill check over on Bob's and a quick glance over the 4th mob of ewes over there to make sure they were all ok.... and they were.. all ok.
While I was at it thought I'd run down to Honiton to check on the mob of hoggets down there. They've been on a barley stubble for... well I cant actually remember how long now, but it seems like ages, and yes they'd eaten it out pretty well. This is the mob, that I think I have mentioned in earlier blogs, that we haven't crutched yet. It's a fair old walk for them to get to any of our shearing sheds for crutching (and then another fair old walk down to our block at Goldsmiths beach to get them to the paddock we want them in). So they'll need their strength for that, and having eaten out the stubbles they've been on for so long I decided to move them across to the next two paddock on the North side at Honiton, on the block we call Granny's. These paddocks are pea stubbles and still fresh (ungrazed). They should have a ball in there with plenty of peas on the ground (shatter loss from harvest), plus there's plenty of summer weeds that have come up, like mignonette (that was a pure guess... I have no idea how to spell it, and I bet the spell checker doesn't either, considering it cant even spell "ute").
Come across a minor problem while I was down there...
Yep, bit of a water leak... have no idea how long it's been leaking for but it doesn't look real good. Actually the photo makes it look worse that it really was I recon.
Ahhh the culprit! The poly, which is 3/4" D-class down there I recon, although I always get confused with all the different classes of poly (B,C,D,12 etc - I don't know what's what) and this pipe has been there long before I've been around. Anyway it had a small split just as it went into the joiner. All I had to do was undo it (get wet), pull it apart (get wet), pull the end of the joiner that goes inside the poly out (get wet) and cut an inch or so off the end and rejoin it (get wet). No problems, and within 5 minutes it was all good.
It's always good to give the trough a quick clean out too when moving a mob onto the paddock, especially if there hasn't been any stock in there for ages. The water was quite green, and there was quite a thick layer of thick, black, sludgey sediment on the bottom. The sheep will appreciate their fresh water... Especially as I suspect that the water leak up the line abit has meant that they've been short of water for a while.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

It Doesn't Feel Like Tuesday (I had to even think about whether it is Tuesday or not)

It actually still feels like a weekend, which is strange seeing as we've just had 4 days of weekend. So hence hard to get in the "feel" for farm work.
It was back into sheep feeding again today, although first up I had to put the feeder back on the ute, as I used it for something else on the weekend (used the ute that is). So another uneventful day sheepfeeding. I'm still only feeding the 3 mobs of ewes - the 4th mob are still fending for themselves on the barley stubble they've only recently moved to. There are more lambs every day, and since the warmer weather (it's been warmer again over Easter) I haven't come across any ewes down with lambing problems. There have still been quite a lot of crows around, but I didn't noticed too many lamb losses because of them. Only saw 1 fresh dead 1 today.
That's it for today... like I said, still in long weekend mode, home working on the vegi garden, which is now starting to look more like a market garden.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Even on Easter Sunday there's still work to do

Although I didn't do that much, just the sheep feeding. Two feeder fulls - 1 for the mob down at 5 roads and half each for the mob at mum & dad's place and the block we call Glackens. Was all relatively un-eventful, all ewes looked ok and they all had water. I also checked on the mob of ewes down on Bob's (paddock 4). They were good too, but didn't need feeding as it's still only been a few days since they were put in there on the fresh barley stubble. So all good and over and done with in an hour or so.
Quick weather update... Glorious Easter weather, lovely warm sunny days in the mid 20'sC (that's just my estimation of course). And no rain, so still very dry. Each morning there has been a quite heavy dew, and even fog this morning... although there could have been fog other mornings too, but I wouldn't have been up early enough to see them. This morning, however, the kids had us up at the crack of dawn (if not earlier) for some unknown reason - the joys of Easter hey.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday farming

One thing about farming is that the work doesn't stop for long weekends, even on special weekends like this one. I did take most of the day off to spend with the family (on the establishment of an incredible vegetable garden to be precise), the sheep still need to be looked after and today was feeding day.
You may have noticed that I had taken the feeder off the back of the ute to move the bulka bag of durham wheat yesterday, well first job today was to put it back in again. No problem... until I dropped a couple of nuts and a washer(that holds the bin on) into an irretrievable position in the bottom of the bin. No worries. I did manage to get 1 nut back and found another 1 in my tool box as well a washer.
Ok all good to go... Not quite. The ute wouldn't start. The battery gets a fair old hiding this time of year, driving the motor on the feeder when I'm feeding out the grain. I should really be running a deep cycle battery that would handle it better rather than the standard battery. The feeder draws it right down. The alternator cant keep up while it's running, but with a bit of road use, claws back a bit of lost ground. It's generally ok as long as I keep it running. Well I moved the ute to go over and get the feeder and turned it off to put the feeder on. Hence I was off to the shed to get the jumper leads and another battery so I could jump start it.
There it is, the old battery. Gee the terminals don't look to flash either... no wonder it's givin me trouble. Next problem was the lack of fuel. So had to fill her up.
Then off we go sheep feeding. I had the girls with me which was nice. The love seeing the new lambs. Now I neglected to mention that we moved 1 of the ewe mobs to greener pastures yesterday. Well not actually greener, there's not a blade of green grass anywhere around here, except where we've got water pipes that are leaking. So not really greener pastures, but fresher stubble's. Dad moved the mob of ewes and lambs that was on paddock 15 & 16 on Bob's to paddock 4 on Bob's. (All Bob's paddocks are numbered - I should include a farm plan here... but I'm not sure if I've got 1 on this computer). We've got water problems up on number 4 (like the sheep trough is empty - we'll sort that out sometime) so we've also given them access to paddock 8 next door which had a good trough near the gate. That also gives them access to 9 and 10 as there is no fences between these three paddocks. They should spend most of their time on 4 though as 8, 9 and 10 are all eaten out.
The biggest mistake I made today was to take the jumper leads and spare battery off the back of the ute when I left with the sheep feed. This is because my driver (which is 1 of my daughters but I cant say that because she would be horrified if the whole world new she slammed on the brake instead of the clutch and stalled the ute) stalled the ute immediately after feeding out half a feeder full of grain. This is when the battery would be at its lowest, and you guessed it, there was no way it was going to start again. The mobile phone is a very useful tool in situations like this, and after calling 4 numbers with no answer, someone actually answered the 5th one and my wonderful wife came to our rescue with the very same jumper leads and battery that I had taken off the back of the ute a mere 15 or so minutes earlier. Thanks Babe!
Other that that an uneventful round of sheep feeding where I did the 3 mobs of ewes that hadn't been moved, and just checked the mob that had been. And they were all fine.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hyperno

Well My pictures downloaded in reverse order today... and I cant be bothered changing them all around, so I'll just run with it in the reverse order. She'll be right.
Ok well here you see us unloading the last of the Hyperno Durham. The Ford Courier tipper proved to be quite handy for this job and made it quite easy.
A couple of old farmers there. My Dad on the right (Bob's left) and Bob on the left (Dad's right). We're actually unloading a new variety of Durham wheat seed, Hyperno, into the silos there at the back of Bob's shed. Bob loves a good yarn so he was more than happy to lend a helping hand and then we all stand around chatting for quite some time (usually until my wife rings me wondering how long I'm going to be before I get home).
Hyperno is a variety of Durham wheat. If you want to look up the statistics and field trial results on Hyperno feel free to do a google search and there'll be plenty of stats. I've only seen some results quickly the other day, after the seed had already arrived at the rural supply shop. I actually ordered the seed about 3 years ago, and it finally arrived. I'm lucky in that my brother is an agronomist (agricultural crop looking at farm guru - actually you'll find the real meaning of agronomist in the dictionary) at the local rural shop, so I left it up to him to select the variety, which at the time was still just a number. New varieties are allocated a number well before they are given a name.
Why Durham? Well I'm glad you asked. I guess I like the challenge of something new, not that I think durham will be much different to growing wheat, so I am confident that it will be a success on our farm. I took on a much greater challenge a few years back with Kaspa peas, and feel that they have worked for us (even though we are still perfecting our reaping techniques - snail management being the main problem). A bit of a farm background here... up until about the mid 90's we only grew barley on a year in year out rotation. So quite a traditional, and long standing, farming practice. And hence any deviation from this is quite a step for us. Well we've come along way, and had great success (I feel) with a 5 year rotation of pasture, kaspa peas, Correl wheat, either SloopSa malting barley (which we've ceased using now due mainly to high malting specifications making it nearly impossible to achieve a malting grade)or another wheat kukri, then maritime feed barley and back to pasture. We have come along way. The durham will replace the correll wheat in the rotation as the first wheat and correll will replace the 2nd wheat, kukri, which was never a stunning performer anyway. There are some pretty good benefits of using the rotation we do and if you think it's a little strange at all or have any questions about why we do it the way we do, the benefits etc, please leave a comment and ask about it and I'll be happy to let you know.
Here's a recap on the rotation so it's easy to see (hopefully if I get the formatting here right):
  1. Pasture
  2. Peas - Kaspa
  3. Wheat - Correll (this will be replaced with Durham wheat - Hyperno)
  4. Wheat - Kukri (this will be replaced with Correll wheat)
  5. Feed Barley - maritime

Another consideration taken in the decision to go into durham was the ease at which we can manage nitrogen levels in the crop in order to reach target protein levels in the grain to achieve the durham grades (the grain has to have high protein to make the grade or else ya don't get much for it). For starters we generally get high protein in our wheat, up around the 13 -14%. The durham will be sown into pea stubbles which generally fix nitrogen in the soil which gives it a great start. We can also apply extra nitrogen really easily later on in the crop stage if/when we need to. Urea is often used to increase nitrogen (or N) levels, but timing the application with rain is very important with urea (which is a granular fertilizer that is spread on the crop with some sort of spreader). I use EasyN or UAN (that 2 different names for the same thing) which is a liquid form of nitrogen. I set it up a few years ago with a dedicated UAN tank and upgraded transfer pump with plumbing to draw from both the UAN tank and a water tank. This pump is used for filling our boom spray for all spraying operations. The boom spray has been fitted with streaming fertilizer nozzles specifically for the UAN. So using the boom spray it is easy to apply basically any rate of nitrogen quickly and without absolute dependence on rain at the time to "wash it in". Hence getting protein levels right in durham shouldn't be too hard. Especially with such an expert agronomist keeping an eye on things for us.

It wasn't until the seed arrived at the rural shop that we found out it was in a 1 tonne bulka bag. We are used to buying new seed in 20 or 25kg bags, which are much easier for us to manage as we have no equipment that would actually be able to lift a full tonne of anything off anything. After much careful thought and consideration we came up with a plan to place the bulka bag on its side in the back of the tipper ute. There is a hole in the bottom so just open that up and pour it into a hopper and auger it into an empty silo... Easy! Well the emptying bit did turn out to be really easy...

but the putting the bulka bag on the back of the ute, on it's side in such a way that the hole in the bottom of the bag could be accesses from right at the back of the ute turned out to be more of a challenge. This was done by the staff at the rural supply shop with the fork lift. Sounds like it should be easy... but no not really. Well perhaps if the fork lift operator wasn't also the agronomist (as good as he is) but a more experience operator (who did come out to lend a hand when we ran out of ideas... and had stabbed a fork through the bag spilling about a bucket full of seed onto the ute tray) it may have been quicker and easier. Don't worry, it did all work out good in the end, not a grain was wasted and we had a good chance to give my brother a hard time while we were at it.
Overall successful day and I even ran down (which means drove down briefly) to Fountains to check on the wethers down there and they were fine, in the right place with plenty of water. Although they did try to escape out the gate while I went down to the trough, but never mind I had Andy the supa-dog, he woulda sorted em out. But never needed to as they decided to abort their escape attempt when they heard the ute coming.
Have a great Easter - God Bless

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I don't like lambing season

We had another bit half a mm of rain this morn. I have to say that it's starting to feel a bit more winterey lately though. It just seems to be cooling down a bit.
I did another round of sheep feeding again today, which was a little more involved as I had to refill the truck, and that involved an auger shift over to another field bin at Bob's. But that wasn't too bad. I tow the auger behind the truck (I'm talking about the Ford tipper here) so it's a pretty easy pick up and go job.
I loaded at Bob's. The bins lined up there have our seed for planting this year... except the one I'm getting the sheep feed out of... that one has sheep feed in it. From there I brought the truck back home to my place, hooked on the elevator (I left the auger at Bob's) and tipped her up... just a little bit too far!

Oooops!

Ok off we go sheep feeding, just the 4 ewe mobs now. They are lambing and I've had problems with a few ewes going down in just about every mob I recon. That's the bit I don't like about lambing season, when the ewes go down lambing and don't have the strength, or whatever it takes, to deliver the lambs and get up again. The other day I had to pull 2 lambs (you've seen the video footage of one). Well I'm sad to say that neither the lamb nor ewe survived that one. I had 2 more down today and I highly doubt whether either of them will survive. And to top it off we have about 20 gazzillion crows hanging around the ewes at 5 roads (an intersection - with 5 roads funnily enough - the paddock is at the intersection). They love to help out the ewes with their lambs. I think they are attracted to the after birth, but then move onto the lambs, and unless the mother is good, will peck the lambs eyes out, thus killing them. Wonderful creatures aren't they. I have taken my gun out on feeding expeditions a few times, but my success rate with crows is not real good. Firstly I only get a chance to take 1 shot, after that they all take off somewhere else (til I leave the paddock). So even if that shot's successful it's not much of a control when there's 20 gazzillion in the paddock. Secondly, I'm not that gooder shot anyway so I'd be lucky to hit even 1.

Just another point of interest I noted. The new load of grain I'm feeding out is last seasons (08/09) grain, the previous lots have been from 07/08, and this lot runs out the feeder a lot quicker. There's more screenings in there (smaller grains) due to the poor season. Maybe that's the reason.

Also did a bit more work on my air seeder switch box this afternoon. That included a trip to the electronics shop to get him to make a 555 timer for me. My attempt at it failed, so he's gonna do it for me. The timer just means that the alarm in the system actually flashes and beeps rather than just a constant light on and beep.

Other than that the switch box is now complete and tested on the air seeder and is working as it should.. I'm a happy man. I had to rig up the clutch in sensor switch and clutch out sensor switch back on the air seeder at the clutch arm. As the arm moves it hits the switch which cancels the alarm and tells the box to stop driving the clutch.

That's actually the clutch out sensors (guards and chains removed for ease of access)

The finished the product. The switch box with green power light, switch, red clutch out light and green clutch in light.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tough one today

Well it wont take me long to do my blog today... cause I didn't do a thing! Just a rain gauge check in the morning to find we'd had 1mm.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Todays activities

Just a quick rainfall update before I go any further... Yesterday 2mm and today 3.5mm

Here's our rain gauge out near the kids playground. And when I say we had 3.5mm today, what that actually means is I emptied 3.5mm out of the rain gauge this morning, so the 3.5mm actually fell yesterday. This is the case every day, I measure the rainfall from the previous day.

First job again today.. sheep feeding, just did the 4 ewe mobs this morning, and there are more and more lambs arriving every day. There are also more problems popping up with the lambing. I hadn't mentioned it previously, but it's not unusual to lose a few ewes (ie. they die) due to problems with giving birth. And we have lost a few. 4 I think at last count, from different mobs. Today I had to help out 2 ewes that were down lambing. I don't hold high hopes for the first one, she'd just been there too long and probably wont survive, but the second will be fine. She was up and away with a little help after I pulled her lamb for her. She may even have another lamb still to come, but she seemed to have plenty of strength left for that, so she should be fine. Here is some footage of the first ewe I came across.

video
Next job was new lights for the trailer. If anyone has ever used a trailer behind there car or ute or whatever they will be fully aware of the issues that can arise just to make sure the lights work... and they usually don't. Especially on a farm trailer. The other day we couldn't get the lights to work... yet again, and so the decision was made to upgrade to LED tail lights. Well after a little bit of drilling, soldering, and heat shrinking (about 2 hours worth - well not quite, but it seemed like it - have you ever tried using heat shrink when it's windy, I couldn't get my gas lighter to stay alight). Then the hurdles went back on, so we could transport sheep in the trailer it we needed to.

The reason for that is that the afternoons job was shifting sheep. The mob of wethers that I had been feeding on the block we call Gumbowie. They've been fed enough now and built up plenty of strength to make the approx. 5km walk up to Fountains (another block of ours). In fact the trailer wasn't even required as we only had to pick up 1 sheep that went down with exhaustion. My dad and myself work together on moving the sheep, well we did today at least, with one of us driving in front of the mob (in this case Dad) and the other driving them from behind (you guessed it... me!). We put a vehicle in front of the mob so the strong ones don't run ahead like wild animals - and wethers can do that - while the slower, weaker, even slightly lame ones struggle to even walk right at the back. That can be disastrous, especially when taking the mob over intersections and crossing over main roads.

Going steady along a country road
Andy's there helping me out. He's just waiting for the next command... actually he's not really, he's posing for the photo. He was really hard at work and I called him and he turned around for the shot.
Got them to the paddock with no problems, just had a couple of quick fencing jobs to do once we got there. One of the gates through to another paddock was a bit worse for wear. It woulda done the same job whether it was open or closed, so we tidied that up a bit.

Before

After
Yeah yeah, I know it doesn't look like much of an improvement, it's still a rickety old gate, we coulda put a new one there. But oh well - she'll be right, till the first time the sheep lean on it. That gives us at least a coupla days. Also had to check the water trough there. They went in on a fresh wheat stubble so we haven't had any stock in there for quite some time and, hence, the water trough was turned off, and as it turns out did have a leak in the pipe. So dad put in a new T-piece in the line where it goes into the trough. The old one must have had a leak. I never actually went and looked he sorted out all that.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Soldering Irons get hot... Dont touch them.

I know I've been a little slack the last few days and actually haven't done a blog for you for a while. As far as work on the farm goes I've been in a bit of a routine of sheep feeding and that's about it. So every second day I've been feeding out a bit of grain to our ewe mobs.
I've been a little consumed, in the last few days, with finishing my wiring on my airseeder switch box, and also repairs on the air seeder controller. That's why I hadn't gotten onto doing my blogs, I was having more fun in the evenings with my soldering iron. I've had reasonable success, after the first couple of attempts, at the wiring, haven't worked. But Now I've almost got it perfected. First major success was replacing a numeric LED display on the air seeder controller.

There's a few spare little number units just so you get a bit of an idea what I'm talking about. They are part of the display on the air seeder controller.

And on top there is the switching box that I've been working on. It basically works fully now. It will operate the airseeder clutch in and out with a flick of the switch (I went out to the air seeder and tested it and there were no problems this time). The power light (green 1 on the left) works as does the clutch in indicator (green on lower right) and clutch out indicator (red upper right). The only thing that isn't working properly yet is the alarm system that I've built into it, where and alarm sounds when the clutch isn't in the position that the switch says it should be. So I'll have to sus out the wiring again and see if there's any bad connections in there, or see if I can work out what I've done wrong this time. But overall I'm feeling good about the whole system. Cant wait to use it.

Another thing that I've been looking into in the last few days was upgrades to my GPS guidance. I mentioned in an earlier blog that I'm using a Trimble ezyguide plus. Well it is a very basic system, which I am happy to use, but the accuracy isn't always the best. There have been times where I'd get drift of over 1 metre between up and back passes. So I've been in contact with our local GPSag guy to see if we can improve this. I'm looking for 2cm accuracy pass for pass, but just an improvement. I'm also thinking about adding an ezysteer to the unit, that will actually steer the tractor as well. I may be able to get a cheaper 2nd hand unit, as most farmers would be upgrading from this basic level of guidance (well I hope they would be anyway - that way there may be some available). Other suggestions we discussed was a software upgade. I know I'd be able to download it off the net, but I don't think I'm that computer literate to work out how to do that. But Phill (GPSag guy)'s looking into it for me. Another option is a marine beacon antenna. They coast about $800 new. All just options at this stage. If you've used ezyguide plus and had this sort of drift problems I'd love you to leave a comment and tell me what you did about it.

Yesterday arvo (after sheep feeding in the morning) did a few hours shearing for our neighbours. They buy and sell alot of cross bread lambs and often want them shorn before selling. So I'm quite happy to help out. It's a Handy little bit of spare change. Exact details... there are 2 of us, we started at 1pm, did a run of shearing. I can't remember exactly how many I did... think it was about 36. Then port holed (shore the wool off under the tail that often gets dung stuck to it) about 63 - bout 10 to 15 mins worth.